Families on TANF in Illinois: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Characteristics of TANF Recipients


The demographic characteristics of the heads of single-parent TANF cases and their households can provide context for the findings on the main research questions. Based on administrative data for the studys full population, Table I.1 shows that four in every five single-parent TANF cases in Illinois reside in Cook County. Nearly all of the case heads are women, a large majority of whom are African American. An equally large majority has never married. About one-third of the heads of single-parent TANF cases are younger than 25 years of age.

Table I.1
TANF Case Heads: Demographic Characteristics
  Percentage or Median Value
Location (%)
Cook County 81
Downstate (all other counties) 19
Female 98
Male 2
Ethnicity/Race (%)
Non-Hispanic, white 12
Non-Hispanic, African American 82
Non-Hispanic, other races 1
Hispanic, any race 6
Marital Status(%)
Never married 84
Married, spouse present 4
Separated, divorced, or widowed 13
Less than 25 years 35
25 to 34 years 38
35 years and over 26
Median Age in Years 28.5
Source: 2001 Illinois administrative data on the TANF caseload.

The households of TANF case heads may include people in addition to those officially on the case. Based on data from the studys survey, Table I.2 presents characteristics of these households. Households occupied by only the TANF case head and children account for a slight majority of all households. However, two in every five households include other adults who may be the heads relative, friend, or partner. Although the study population is single-parent TANF cases, a small share of the households does not include children (one percent) or includes the heads spouse (four percent), reflecting changes that could have occurred in the brief interval between sample selection and the completion of interviews. On average, the households of single-parent TANF cases are occupied by 4.5 people, nearly three of whom are children under the age of 18. The average age of the youngest child in these households is slightly less than four years.

Table I.2
TANF Case Heads: Characteristics of Their Households
  Percentage or Mean Value
Household Composition (%)
Adults only, no children 1
Single parent, children 55
Single parent, other adults, children 36
Single parent, partner, children 4
Two married adults, children 4
Mean Number of Persons 4.5
Mean Number of Children < Age 18 2.7
Mean Number of Children < Age 6 1.2
Mean Age of Youngest Child in Years 3.8
Source: 2001-02 survey of Illinois TANF cases.

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